Mass rape, killings and torture in South Sudan – UN

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UN investigators identified perpetrators of pervasive rape and killings and torture in secret safe houses in South Sudan and believe oil revenues drive much of the violence in its civil war, a report said.

The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan recommended further investigation of evidence proceeds from South Sudan’s oil-based economy are channelled to government forces and militias linked to reported war crimes.

The Commission said the army, national security, military intelligence, rebel forces and affiliated armed groups committed serious human rights breaches. It had drawn up a confidential list of suspects including army and opposition commanders, two state governors and a county commissioner.

Its 212-page report detailed people held for years and tortured in secret, vermin-ridden detention centres, children run down by tanks, rape of girls as young as seven and babies drowned, starved or smashed against trees.

In some stricken areas, 65% of females and 36% of males may have been sexually abused, according to the report.

South Sudan’s main warring parties signed a peace deal in September, widespread violence, especially rape, continues.

A member of the three-person commission, Andrew Clapham, said it was outraged by reports of further fighting between government forces and the rebel National Salvation Front, not part of the peace agreement, in the Yei River area.

“There are thousands of civilians forcibly displaced following a scorched-earth policy in which parties to the conflict are attacking the villages, torching the homes, killing civilians and raping women and girls,” Clapham said.

“MUST STOP”

The United States, Britain and Norway jointly expressed alarm at reports of escalating violence in Yei. “These military actions and the trading of blame must stop,” they said in a joint statement.

Clapham said  more than 5,000 refugees reached neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and up to 20,000 people were expected to be displaced by the latest fighting.

The report cited a close connection between oil and the conflict. A law ensuring South Sudan’s oil-producing regions and communities received two and three percent of its oil revenue triggered a redrawing of provincial boundaries and ethnic conflict.

“We feel the national security services are involved in siphoning off oil money,” said Clapham.

The Human Rights Council should get to the bottom of the amounts involved and where the money was going, he told reporters, noting health and education spending was “minuscule”.

“If you are involved in oil extraction and asked to assist one side or the other you could be accused of complicity in war crimes. There are Council members we think have a responsibility to look more carefully at this.”

South Sudan is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. This year the United Nations needs $1.5 billion for livesaving aid for its population and $2.7 billion for its refugees.